What Is The Easiest Way To Teach Prime Factorization?


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Oddman answered
Teach multiplication tables. (Work with manipulatives as required.) Teach primes. Teach factorization.

It all hinges on understanding multiplication. If the student has no clue what products are and how they are computed, there is no hope of teaching prime factorization. These concepts are pretty abstract. A grounding in physical reality (manipulatives like Legos, or baking cookies--rows, columns) helps.

Primes are the numbers that only show up in the "times 1" column (or row) of a multiplication table. Sieve techniques can also be useful in understanding primes.

The notion of square numbers and square roots is helpful in limiting how much testing needs to be done to do factorization. The notion of exponents is useful for cutting down on the writing involved in factorization. Otherwise factorization is working backward through the multiplication table finding what a product is made of.
  48 = 6*8 = (2*3)*(2*4) = (2*3)*(2*(2*2)) = 2*2*2*2*3 = (2^4)*3

Above all, allow each student to take as much time as required to come to their own understanding of it.

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